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“Look Out For The Quicksand!” Said No One Ever

10 Gen X fears that never came true

Quicksand still from the movie, Neverending Story
TCD/Prod.DB/Alamy Stock Photo

Like any sensible adult, you know that the world is full of dangers. From gun violence to heart attacks, there are any number of ways that you could meet an untimely end. But you know how you’re probably not going to die today? Quicksand.

Which is vaguely disappointing. Growing up in a pre-internet age, when most of what we knew of the outside world came from pop culture and hearsay from friends, we were led to believe that the dangers facing us in adulthood would be a bit more colorful and zany.

Here are 10 of our favorite childhood misconceptions about the threats that awaited us when we left the security of home. What did we miss? Leave a comment below and tell us some of the crazy things you believed as a kid.

1. Quicksand

We can all thank The NeverEnding Story (RIP Artax, a beautiful horse who deserved better) for supplanting logic with this seemingly never-ending fear. But it’s time to let it go. You don’t just have to take our word for it — scientists at the Van der Waals-Zeeman Institute in Amsterdam studied quicksand in 2005 and found that it’s “impossible” for a human to be sucked completely under.

2. Snakes

If snakes are terrifying to Indiana Jones, it’s more than understandable that they would bring most of us into a state of full-blown panic. They slither, bite and rattle, and those with a menacing hood even became synonymous with a highly problematic dojo, not to mention G.I. Joe’s main archnemesis. But despite the villainous rap we’ve bestowed on them, mosquitoes kill nearly 15 times more people a year than all snakes put together. Ssssssssomething to think about.

3. The Bermuda Triangle

What has become a maritime Area 51 of sorts, the large body of water known as the Bermuda Triangle is infamously known as a location where numerous flights have disappeared without explanation. But, in actuality, no more flight accidents have occurred there than any other part of the world. Like the punk rocker who secretly loves Barry Manilow, the Bermuda Triangle is a bit of a poser.

4. Escaping dangerous situations by dropping and rolling

Stop, drop and roll was the crisis management mantra of our youth. It started to fall by the wayside once we, as a society, stopped being so stingy with fire extinguishers.

5. Falling pianos

Once upon a time, it seemed people were at real risk of being crushed by a piano at any given moment, a phenomenon known as the Wile E. Coyote Effect.

6. Hidden satanic messages in music

“Have I become satanic yet?” you may have wondered, based on the public outcry and congressional hearings that took place in an effort to stymie popular music’s perceived penchant for the occult. Yet, no matter how hard we rebelliously rocked out, performing ritual sacrifices in our basements never became a thing.

7. Dysentery 

“Can everyone please stop getting dysentery?!” you may have one day shouted from your school’s computer lab. The Oregon Trail led to a great amount of dysentery hysteria as wagon mate after wagon mate succumbed to the deadly infection. Thankfully, those dastardly days are over, and we can all put that unpleasant mess in the, well, rear.

8. Piranhas

As it turns out, the chance of being slowly lowered into a tank of piranhas by a nefarious criminal mastermind is quite low. And, unless they’re starving, piranhas don’t actually like to eat people. Now I simply feel sorry for all the piranhas whose owners don’t feed them a proper diet.

9. Acid rain

“It’s rain! And it’s acid! And it’s falling on all of us!” seemed like declarations we were all destined to make. But this is something we actually fixed with the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and other regulatory measures. It’s still hard to reconcile because we’ve been so well trained to believe that things will keep getting worse.

10. Chloroform

I still don’t know where one even gets chloroform but, growing up, it sure seemed widely available to anyone looking to kidnap and shove someone into the trunk of a car. Now, if chloroform crosses your path, it’s probably just what the kids have dubbed their latest strain of weed.

Follow Article Topics: Inside-Dope